Halloween is just around the corner, and although candy consumption is almost unavoidable this time of year, now is the best time to teach your children good oral health habits for life without depriving them of Halloween treats. You don’t have to deny your child the Halloween experience, because that can send the entirely wrong message and make candy seem even more irresistible. Instead, letting children help decide what is a reasonable amount of candy to keep has benefits beyond good oral health. You shouldn’t be sending the message that “candy is bad,” but that candy and other sweets, in excess, can lead to cavities.
Parents should closely monitor their children’s candy intake this Halloween --- and all year round – and continue to promote good oral health habits. When children chew sticky candies such as caramels or taffy, candy gets stuck on the surface and in between crevices. The longer the sugar is stuck to the teeth, the more time the bacteria have to produce acid. The longer the teeth are exposed to acid, the more chance your child has of developing cavities.
When the time comes to go trick-or-treating, be mindful of these tips for eliminating the effects of sugary treats.
- Steer away from sticky candies like gummy fruit snacks, caramels, taffy, popcorn balls and other candies that expose the teeth to sugar for long periods of time.
- Limit consumption of sour candies that may contain acids to intensify the sour flavor. These acids can contribute to dental erosion and cavities.
- Encourage children to eat a small amount of candy in one sitting followed by a glass of water or a thorough tooth brushing.
- Encourage children to eat a good meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to fill up on candy.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books, or festive pens and pencils.
No matter when treat time is, it’s crucial to brush soon after. Otherwise, sugars will linger on the teeth, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay. However, if the candy is sour, hold off on the brushing. Sour candy is acidic, so it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before brushing. The action of brushing can actually spread the acid onto more tooth surfaces, increasing its erosive action on tooth enamel.
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